Two of the hottest books this fall are set in two of the planet’s coldest locales: Siberia and the South Pole.
In Midnight in Siberia, author and NPR host David Greene meets singing babushkas in Buranovo and teenagers hawking meteor fragments in Chelyabinsk, as he travels 6,000 miles by train through the frigid rural heart of Russia.
Felicity Aston ventures into even more extreme climes when she sets out to become the first woman to ski solo across Antarctica. Her memoir, Alone in Antarctica, brings to life the terror, the wonder, and the craziness of her two-month ordeal.
In his short story collection, The Dog, Jack Livings fetches up the new China and gives it a good shake, with insight gleaned from his experiences as a student there in the mid-1990s.
Renaissance Florence and Leonardo da Vinci play central roles in Dianne Hales’s behind-the-canvas take on the artist’s most famous subject, Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, in Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered.
And Jan Morris pays tribute to a da Vinci contemporary in her newest, Ciao, Carpaccio!, a wise and whimsical homage to the underappreciated 15th-century Italian artist Vittore Carpaccio, who painted a Venice full of life and symbolism. As always, Morris’s prose is transformative.
Don George is an editor at large at Traveler magazine (this article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue) and the author of Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing. Follow Don on Twitter @don_george.
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